Baz Luhrmann’s glitzy take on ‘The Great Gatsby,’ starring a brooding Leonardo DiCaprio, is a bizarre mélange of rap, Prada, and CGI, that is all pomp and precious little circumstance.
I am exhausted. Moments ago, the credits rolled for Baz Luhrmann’s $127 million 3-D film adaptation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role. As I stood there, outside of the Ziegfeld Theatre in Midtown Manhattan, pondering Luhrmann’s operatic blunder—and my pounding headache—I thought of all the feeble attempts at translating F. Scott Fitzgerald’s celebrated 1925 novel to the screen. All have failed at grasping its themes, ironies, and allusions. What they do not know is that, amid these monolithic skyscrapers and thump-thump-rah-rah revelry, it’s an exercise in futility.
Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan and Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby.” (Warner Bros. Picture)
Fitzgerald’s novel is, after all, a cautionary tale about the decline of the American empire, drowning itself in a sea of excess. The empire, of course, didn’t fall. So over the years, the saga of James Gatz has been appropriated by the victors into a celebration of the very excess it abhorred. A similar thing happened to Oliver Stone’s 1987 film Wall Street, which is now a favorite among budding Masters of the Universe. The Australian filmmaker Luhrmann, best known for the boisterous Bohemian musical Moulin Rouge!, revels in the glitz and glamour of the Roaring ’20s, completely losing sight of the story’s central message.
He pioneered the mockumentary on film. Now Christopher Guest is bringing his latest comedy, HBO’s ‘Family Tree,’ to a TV landscape crowded with the format. Jace Lacob on whether he succeeds.
Over the last few decades, the mockumentary format has become almost totally synonymous with Christopher Guest, the writer/director (and often actor) best known for films such as This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, Waiting for Guffman, A Mighty Wind, and For Your Consideration. Each film—to varying success—mined the documentary format for laughs, setting up its eccentric characters as the butts of the joke ... or the only ones in on it.
It’s no surprise, then, that Guest would eventually seek to bring his brand of comedy to television, which has had significant success with the format: numerous comedies, from Modern Family to The Office and Parks and Recreation, have embraced the single-camera mockumentary format, allowing for characters to engage in “talking heads” segments in which they speak directly to the audience via an unseen film crew. It’s through this technique that characters are able to comment on what the viewer has just seen or will see, an act that creates an instantaneous and perpetual sense of intimacy. That rapport, in essence, sets up the audience as an additional, unseen character in the room, removing the narrative distance between the action and the viewer at home.
Fox’s Rihanna 777 documentary offered a behind-the-scenes look at the turbulent tour. Jean Trinh compares the differences between the video footage and actual reports.
Seven countries. Seven concerts. Seven days.
Rihanna 777—an hourlong documentary that aired on Fox on May 6— depicts Rihanna’s ambitious and controversial tour that visited countries from Mexico to Germany in November 2012, and brought along 150 journalists and 50 fans from around the world for the ride. The tour was intended to celebrate the release of the Rihanna’s seventh album, Unapologetic, and although it started off as a raucous party, it ended with sharp criticism from reporters, who lashed out through detailed, day-by-day articles and tweets, describing the situation as the “utmost hopeless place” and comparing it to “Stockholm Syndrome.”
Rihanna performs in her concert documentary, “Rihanna 777.” (Meredith Truax/FOX)
Matthew Inman of the wildly popular Oatmeal comics has a new book, ‘My Dog: The Paradox,’ out today. He talks to Jean Trinh about his critics, charitable fundraisers, and more.
An “Internet kingpin” and a “force to be reckoned with” are just a couple of the descriptions media outlets have assigned to Matthew Inman, creator of The Oatmeal, one of the most popular comics on the Web. Even Mashable warns readers, “Rule number one on the Web: You don’t mess with The Oatmeal.”
It seems a surprising take on Inman, 30. The Seattle resident is better known for his geeky, relatable humor; for capturing funny and touching moments with his pets; and for his entertaining musings on grammar, the underrated and dangerous mantis shrimp, and 20th-century physicist Nikola Tesla.
From doing coke with David Lee Roth to breaking down how MTV got so shitty, Nina Blackwood, Mark Goodman, Alan Hunter, and Martha Quinn dish on their new memoir and what it was like being the first MTV VJs.
At 12:01 a.m. one summer night in 1981, a rocket ship took off on television. A voice announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, rock and roll!” and five fresh faces—Alan Hunter, Mark Goodman, Nina Blackwood, Martha Quinn, and J.J. Jackson—were introduced to America. The video for the Buggles’ “Video Killed the Radio Star” began to play, and a brand new 24/7 cable entertainment channel called MTV was born.
Those five faces guided America through the rock and roll of the ’80s, when Duran Duran, Bruce Springsteen, Twisted Sister, Kajagoogoo, and everything in between ruled the airwaves. The video jockeys, as they were called, became celebrities on par with the rock stars they interviewed—and occasionally dated or partied with. Mark says he found out years later that they were cast as types: “J.J. was the benign black guy, Nina was the video vamp, Alan was the jock, and Martha was the girl next door that every executive wanted to fuck.”
Basement bedrooms. 18th birthdays. Sex in a cave! From Ron Jeremy to Courtney Cummz, porn’s biggest names tell adult-film star Aurora Snow about the night they lost their virginity.
My first time wasn’t as titillating as you might expect from a porn star. It was a boring cliché, in fact, and yet I wouldn’t trade the experience for a different one. I was at a drive-in movie with my high-school sweetheart. We did what every parent fears their kids will do at the drive-in: what started as a make-out session turned into something much more explicit. I initiated it; I’d always wanted to know what sex felt like, what it was really. I read a lot about sex, saw glimpses of it in movies, and was more or less culturally inundated with it. I was inquisitive and knew I had the ideal partner to explore new territory with. I wasn’t promiscuous, despite my later career choice. I was a perfectly average teen.
From left: porn actresses Jessica Drake, Courtney Cummz, and Teagan Presley. (Getty)
Watching our movies might lead a person to believe that adult-film stars were born with innate sexual abilities. Turns out, we aren’t that much different from everyone else when it comes to our first encounters. We start slowly, shyly, and awkwardly just like most teenagers discovering the birds and the bees. And while I think there’s a common belief that adult stars start having sex at particularly young ages, you’d be surprised to learn how many fall into that thoroughly average age category—and that some are late bloomers. I asked a few famous adult-film performers to recall their first times. Here’s what they told me.
Jonah Falcon is said to have the world’s largest penis. Now he’s singing about it. He chats with The Daily Beast about “It’s Too Big” and, well, his very large penis.
When your penis is so large that documentaries are made about it, that airport TSA mistakes your member for a weapon, that Jon Hamm gets advice from you on how to handle the attention, you have two options. You could try desperately to play down the fascination and keep your prodigious private...private. Or, you could let it all hang out.
Jonah Falcon, the 42-year-old actor with the 9-inch penis (13.5 inches hard), has chosen the latter route. Falcon has already spoken about his penis, unofficially the world’s largest, in a handful of documentaries on the male body. Now he’s singing about it.
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